Uncommon Grounds - Part II

Review coming soon.

chicken salad and asian chicken soup
bacon, egg and cheese on an onion bagel

Capital Q Smokehouse

Capital Q Smokehouse was rated one of the best barbecue restaurants in the Capital District. Though they did have good food, I was not wowed by this restaurant.

The restaurant is located in the student ghetto of Albany. If you are not in your 20's, you may feel slightly out of place in this restaurant. When I was in the restaurant, the crowd was exclusively college-age individuals. Dollar bills on the wall by the cash register had greek letters written on them of the various frats and sororities of the local colleges.

We ordered the pulled pork in this two-pound portion, assuming we would get a better deal ordering by the pound than each having a sandwich. We may have gotten a large jug of meat, but we didn't enjoy it too much. The meat was of high-quality and was not fatty, unlike Pig Pit. However, the North Carolina vinegary taste of the meat was not to my liking. I had left-overs the next day, and I almost did not finish them. This is slightly unusual behavior for me.

two pounds of pulled pork

With our 2 pounds of pork, we ordered a couple of sides. The winner among the sides was the sweet potato fries, which were excellent. They were freshly-made, and worth the wait.

sweet potato fries

There are different barbecue flavors at Capital Q, so next time we might try one of those. However, I am not running back to this establishment.

Garden Buffet at Saratoga Gaming and Raceway

On Saturday night, I decided to combine my love of Saratoga with my love of buffet eating. The Garden Buffet is the cheaper buffet in the Racino, however, at $16.00, it is no bargain. Even though I ate a bunch, I did not feel like I got my money's worth. However, one has to expect that everything will be marked up in Saratoga.

The buffet has food from many lands: American, Asian, Italian, and Japanese. I was impressed to see a sushi chef busily cutting rolls, and several cooks carving roast beef and turkey. The sushi rolls were very good, especially considering this was not a Japanese buffet. The prime rib was also good, juicy and flavorful but a bit on the rare side. They had large, juicy pork ribs and oven-roasted chicken legs and thighs.

The buffet did not have a lot of variety. There were perhaps 50 different items, far less than a typical Atlantic City buffet. The salad bar was bare-bones, with lettuce, tomato, onion and beets. There was no bread, egg salad, or tuna salad. There was not a single seafood item, except for breaded cod and shrimp, which were clearly frozen.

The service was not the greatest. Our waitress had to tend to the gamblers, as well as the buffet, which I found strange. We were eating at around 7pm, and there were many other people eating at the buffet. It took perhaps half an hour for my friend to get a refill on his drink.

The dessert was a disappointment. The baked goods were cut into tiny bites, dare I want to gorge myself as any normal American would at a buffet. They had lemon squares and strawberry shortcake, which were both good. The food was obviously bought wholesale and not cooked on-premises. There was no soft-serve ice cream, which I consider to be the topper to any good buffet.

If I was at the Racino, and was hungry, I would probably leave and stop by PJ's in the summer, or the Ripe Tomato in the off-season.

The Bayou Cafe

The Bayou Cafe in Glenville is one of my favorite restaurants. There is a great ambiance in there, combined with great food and an extensive menu.

The Bayou achieves the difficult balancing act of being a bar and also a family restaurant. It is one of the few restaurants located in Glenville, a suburb of Schenectady, and therefore serves a lot of families. It has a very comfortable feel inside. Chips and fresh salsa are put on every table before customers start eating their meal. The salsa is mild but full of tomato.

The menu has American, Cajun and Mexican options. I do not know of any other restaurant in the area which has Cajun offerings.

I ordered the Barbecue Brisket which was a special. I have been on a barbecue kick lately, so I figured I would give it a try. Of course, it was not as good as something from the Pig Pit, but it was tasty in its own right. It was covered in a sweet, syrupy barbecue sauce. The brisket was very tender, and the portion was acceptable, but not huge. The brisket came with seasoned potatoes and macaroni salad. The potatoes were a strange pairing with the brisket, but they were fresh and tasty. I would much rather had fries or even a baked potato. I had cole slaw rather than the macaroni salad, and it also was fresh.

For a hometown place in the suburbs, the Bayou has a lot to offer. Great atmosphere, food, menu are just three of the reasons why the Bayou is always packed.